Meet Camazotz, the Ancient Mayan Batman
Many things we think originated in recent times are actual copies from much older sources.
There’s plenty of evidence of such cases throughout history.
But did you know that thousands of years ago, the ancient Maya worshiped a god that had the body of a person and the head of a bat? The ‘creature’ had pointy ears and was referred to by the ancient Maya as Camazotz.
Curiously, that description may sound awfully similar to a character most of us are familiar with, seeing him in movies, series, and comic strips.
His name is Batman.
Batman, not the only Bat Man
You guessed it.
Batman’s origins can (sort of) be traced back to a long lost civilization that existed in modern-day Mexico.
Before the DC Comics ‘invented’ the Batman, there was Camazotz, a mysterious pre-Hispanic deity that symbolized night, death and sacrifice.
He was popular among the ancient Maya.
And his description is awfully similar to our modern-day Batman.
But there isn’t really much about him on the internet.
In fact, most of the details describing Camazotz can be traced back to the Popol Vuh.
Camazotz or Camazot is a relatively unknown character from Mayan mythology. The ancient Mayan god is considered as the murderous bat god.
Representations Camazotz can be found in the museum of Copán, in Honduras although description about him can be found in a few Mayan codices as well.
The ancient deity was dubbed as a master of mysteries, life, and death.
Camazotz comes from two ancient Maya (K’iche ) words ‘kame, which means “death”, and sotz’, which is translated as “bat”.
The worship of Camazotz can be traced back to around 200 B.C. and it is believed to have started among the Zapotecs of Oaxaca, Mexico, who worshiped an anthropomorphic monster with the body of a man and the head of a bat.
The bat was associated with night, death and sacrifice.
Camazots eventually found his place among the pantheon of the Quiche, a Mayan tribe that lived in the jungles of what is now Guatemala and Honduras.
The K’iche quickly identified the bat-god with their god Zotzilaha Chamalcan, which is the god of fire.
Some scholars even believe that the myth surrounding Camazotzs went far beyond the land of the ancient Maya, as stories of similar beings spread across Guatemala, and as far as Brazil.
It was back in 2014 when Warner Brothers gathered as many as thirty artists for them to reinterpret the looks of Batman for the 75th anniversary.
There were quite a few results.
But one of them was a stunning piece made by Christian Pacheco, owner of a design agency in Yucatan. In fact, it was his examples that stood out the most.
With his piece, Pacheco reminded everyone, that DC Comics was not the first to actually have their very own Batman.
Pacheco’s design gave a heads up to many people that the very first ‘bat’ man can be traced back to the ancient Maya, more than 2,500 years ago.
You can see more images of his version of ‘If Batman was a Mayan god’ in his Behance gallery.
The Popol Vuh and Camazotz
If we take a look at the Popol Vuh we find a few descriptions of this mythical god.
The Popol Vuh, the book of the council ‘or’ book of the community’, is a compilation of mythical, legendary and historical narratives of the K’iche; the Mayan people inhabiting modern-day Guatemala.
The book, of great historical and spiritual value, has been called Sacred Book or the Bible of the Maya Quiche.
In the Popol Vuh, Camazotz was a common name making reference to the bat-like monsters that the Mayan twin heroes Hunahpú and Ixbalanque stumbled across, during their trials in the underworld of Xibalbá.
It has been found that the Nahua horseshoe-shaped temples were dedicated to the worship of the bat god.
Their altars were made of pure gold and oriented towards the East.
It was believed that the bat god had power to cure any disease, but also power to cut the divine cord of life that unites the body to the soul.
The Nahua priests invoked the bat god when asking for health.